Like my Sleeping Child tangled with the key that I showed the operator the first day in the haunted elevator at the Elgin. Maybe we’re all living in someone’s dream.

I was happy to get a ride to the Lakeview Inn and figured that Emma had business of her own and didn’t want to drive for fear she’d get pulled over after a few drinks.

An hour later I saw Sleeping Child Lake from the crest of a bare hill, its wide water that was chemical green, like the shallow water inside tropical reefs. It looked like a secret lake on the moon or on Mars and made you think it might harbor something big that hadn’t gone extinct.

At the wintry lake, Emma tried to rent a boat with a spotlight and viewer but because she was a Crow Indian the boatman said no, afraid she’d drown herself — the “crazy fools” did it all the time trying to reach the “Happy Hunting Ground” and he’d be damned if he’d lose his job.

That’s why Wes Blackdeer didn’t like to talk about the lake.

She ran back down the dock, calling my name as I walked up the gravel parking lot toward the big inn. I turned and started back and she hurried to me and took my wrist, asking me to go out with her so she could see the submerged town.

Her long hair blew across her face as she kept brushing it away and her black eyes waited for me to say yes.

Again, I thought I knew her from somewhere, where I didn’t know, until we were out on the clear acid-green water and her story began to sound like something I’d heard before.

She took my hand and together we walked toward the string of colored boats, past the sign that said, “Visit the Lost City and Discover the Sleeping Child Monster!”

We had to wear life vests and Emma steered the blue boat and wouldn’t look into the lake, even after I dropped a quarter and watched it fall and fall past bridges and domes, windowed cliffs and vast pillared pavilions, until finally it turned green and only its round shadowed outline remained.

The drowned city was unreal, like a sunken Atlantis — no wonder the Indians had thought the lake was holy — but the air was cold and when the wind picked up as the early white moon rose behind the snow clouds, I asked her to go in.

“I’ll let you off at the bank,” she said quickly. “Away from the dock.”

“What’re you looking for?” I asked. We were looking for something. “If you tell me I’ll stay with you.”

She turned her head, beginning to cry and try to talk about her violent and jealous ex-husband and what he had done, then glanced up and lifted her blue sweater past her breasts, to show the long raised scar he’d made below the white Sleeping Child on the silver chain, the carved antler that matched the one in my pocket.

“Do you know the Child?” she asked, like Wes’ mother.

“Yes,” I said. “I know the prayer.”

She leaned and touched my cheek and lowered her sweater and with the spotlight we searched the crystal water and sandstone city for the boy Emma Little Bear was certain she had lost, that her husband had stolen and that together we could find.

I didn’t contradict her, but kept looking through the viewer, watching towers and long stairways, shining silver lures hanging like wind chimes above a white, wrecked boat with feathery fiberglass like hair. I half-waited to see the rising basket that I knew had brought Emma Little Bear to Sleeping Child Lake.